I cannot remember a time when music and movies where not a part of my life.
1967 – Portsmouth – Englebert Humperdinck – the Graduate
It is 1967 and we have moved from Inskip near Preston in Lancashire back to our house in Portsmouth. My parents has bought Quay Gate in the high street of Old Portsmouth back in 1958 to be closer to secondary schools for my two elder sisters. Like many naval families, homes were let out when overseas and it was always wonderful to come back and get all our personal belongings out of storage.
Of course my brother and I had outgrown the clothes and toys that we had not taken to South Africa in 1963. Still it was like Christmas and we soon settled back into life at home.
I was 14 and after catching up with an English based curriculum in my two years in Preston, I began the school year at Portsmouth Southern Grammar School for Girls in Fratton. I had two years before taking my O’levels and still had some ground to recover before sitting the exams.
A slightly later photo of me, having just been made prefect in my final year at school
My parents resumed their active social life with old friends. My father was now posted to HMS Bellerophon which was the headquarters for Reserve Ships in Portsmouth and was based in HMS Belfast berthed alongside HMS Excellent. He was the Staff Weapons Electrical Officer and his duties concerned the maintenance of the ships in reserve and on the disposal list, and of course HMS Belfast. It was his last post in the Royal Navy before official retirement although he would work for the service for a further ten years in a civilian capacity.
For me music and films in particular were far more available. Inskip was several miles from a major town and access to the cinema meant being taken by my parents in the car to Blackpool. In Portsmouth everything was within walking distance including a youth club which I joined in St. Georges Hall close to the dockyard. I would go there on a Saturday night and for the first time experienced hitting the dance floor with others of my own age.
My eldest sister was now married and living in Bolton and my other sister Diana was at sea much of the time as a purser with the Union Castle line… The same ship in fact that we had returned to the UK on in 1965, The Edinburgh Castle. So I had the bedroom and the record player to myself… Although it was still banished to the basement.
Mollie and Eric in the back garden of Quaygate, Old Portsmouth.
My father was a heavy smoker and in those days was able to take advantage of the duty free rations in the Navy… He averaged about 15 cigarettes a day and then would throw the packet with the remaining five or six cigarettes into the top drawer of the dresser. At the weekend he would consolidate all the spares into one packet.
I am afraid that I discovered his stash and would liberate one cigarette at a time and smoke it downstairs in the basement whilst listening to my records. I am afraid that I continued to smoke for another 25 years before finally giving up at age 39.
A new star was emerging in the mid-60s. Well actually it was a reincarnation of an old star as a singer failing to make the big time re-invented himself. Englebert Humperdinck had been born in India to a British Army father and his wife and had originally been named Arnold George Dorsey.
When he began his singing career and for the following ten years he was known as Gerry Dorsey but despite being very good looking and having a great voice he had not made the big time. However in 1965 he teamed up with friend and music impresario Gordon Mills who suggested the name change to Englebert Humperdinck the 19th century German composer. Gordon also got him a record deal with Decca Records and a year later “Release Me” hit the charts and was the No 1 record for 1967.
Apart from having a secret crush. Well alright a full on teenage passion for this good-looking singer, I also like millions of others, fell under the spell of that song. One of the greatest break-up tracks of all times.
In the November of 1967 my sister Diana and I went to the Portsmouth Guildhall where I swooned through two hours of my idol… Oh to be fourteen again.
Please release me from 1967 Englebert Humperdinck.
That year another iconic song was released into the world. The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross hit the cinemas and I seem to remember that I got into see it with my sister although I was not allegedly old enough. However, being already 5ft 10inches had its advantages! As you can see smoking did not stunt my growth.
Here is “Here’s to You Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel – Mr E.
Buy the movie: Amazon US
Thanks for dropping in and I hope you have enjoyed my trip down memory lane.. next time 1968 and the music I was listening to and the movies I watched.